Facts (pre-2009/2010 closure)

Number of Dune users:

While these numbers have certainly increased over the years, complete closure seems to be an extreme decision based upon Manhattan Beach’s  Park and Recreation’s 2009 records:

  • During the peak summer months: 6,000-9,000/month (18 per hour)
  • During the spring/fall months: 5,500/month (13 per hour)
  • During the low winter months: 3,500/month (8 per hour)

Park Size:

Surprisingly, Sand Dune Park has the second largest area of open and unstructured recreational area of all Manhattan Beach Parks. Of the nearly two million square feet of area in the large Manhattan Beach parks, 50% is essentially “pay to play” usage. Only Polliwog Park and Sand Dune Park have open recreational areas:

  • Polliwog Park is approximately 800,000 sq.ft. with 200,000 sq.ft. of open unstructured recreation area
  • Marine Avenue Parks are approximately 500,000 sq.ft. with ZERO open unstructured recreation area (all ball fields, courts, & tot lot)
  • Live Oak Park is approximately 350,000 sq.ft. with ZERO open unstructured recreation area (all ball fields, courts & tot lot)
  • Sand Dune Park is approximately 150,000 sq.ft. with 80,000 sq.ft. of open unstructured recreation area (dune is about 50,000 sq.ft.)
  • Manhattan Heights is approximately 150,000sq.ft with ZERO open unstructured rec area (this includes the annexation of the old library as a “community room”)

Environmental Issues

While there continues to be misleading statements made, the good news is that there are no serious environmental concerns as supported by professional statements below.

  • There is no erosion as sand is not lost but continuously brought back up to the top.” Donald Scoles, Manhattan Beach Property Owner, Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control (CPESC) with a 20-year career in Environmental Planning and Compliance
  • The actual Sand Dune stretches almost one-half mile long (about 2,400 feet long between 26th and 36th street) and the Dune that is used for recreation comprises only about 200 feet, or 10%. This means that 90% of the Dune remains preserved and under vegetation.
  • According to Manhattan Beach’s Public Works Director, Jim Arndt, during the City Council Meeting 01/19/10, there has been no significant loss of Sand
  • The Sand Dune is structurally safe and slope is stable – City Staff Report April 13, 2010
  • The Sand Dune is all that remains of the original and natural Dune as the rest of the 1/2 mile dune is planted with non-indigenous plants
  • The 1970 General Plan for Manhattan Beach specifically stated the Sand Dune Park for recreational purposes
  • The current vision as stated by the Parks and Recreation department is to “Promote Health and Wellness” and “Provide Recreational Experiences”

A genuine “Green” city’s top prioirity usually encourages open space recreational area (as did the 1970 General Plan for the Sand Dune Park) rather than restrict access.


As confirmed at the January 19th, 2010 City Council meeting, public parks around the country are investments in the community rather than profit centers. In terms of return on investment, it is quite evident that the Sand Dune’s overwhelming achievement at attracting users qualifies it as a success not only for the city of Manhattan Beach, but for all of its users as well.

Current Costs

The majority of costs for Sand Dune Park are effectively fixed and would exist with or without usage of the Sand Dune. Ironically, there would also be a maintenance cost of $40,000 to “close” the Dune.

  • According to the the Parks Department of Manhattan Beach, the total budget for the Parks is $5,000,000.  The Sand Dune accounts for only 2% of this figure!
  • The following variable cost figures were confirmed at the 1/19/10 City Council Meeting of up to $125,000:
    • Returning sand from the bottom to the top of the Dune has an average cost of $3,500. If Dune usage were to be reduced as indicated by the City Council when it reopens, the annual cost would be estimated at $14,000 (assuming a more historical four times annually).
    • Partial Park Ranger salary associated with the Sand Dune was estimated at $50,000.

Future Costs of New Solutions

There would be effectively zero costs to reducing usage if implementing just two simple but effective solutions of reducing peak usage hours and adding a quota system.

  • A nominal annual fee of $25, may even allow the Dune to become a revenue-neutral park.
  • All costs would decrease if these new measures to reduce usage are implemented.
  • According to Officer Malatesta, there would not be additional extra costs required for law enforcement of proposed solutions.

Noise and Enforcement

While there will always be a few bad apples, the overwhelming number of users are respectful, polite, and simply want to enjoy the Dune and go home.

  • As Lt. Harrod said at 09/24/09 PPIC meeting, crime has been minimal over the years and the majority of complaints occur during peak evening hours.
  • As Officer Malatesta confirmed during the 01/19/10 meeting, “the vast majority are compliant”
  • When asked about the capability of Manhattan Beach’s law enforcement to enforce any new solutions with existing resources, Officer Malatesta stated, “I do not see how it is an issue”


While most people who utilize the Dune enjoy the challenging work-out it provides, according to Officer Malatesta during a 9/24/09 PPIC meeting, and confirmed once again during the 01/19/10 City Council Meeting, during the past four years, the increase in usage has been just as much by “children and families”

As you can see here for a visual representation of Manhattan Beach residents who have signed the petition, most live within walking distance


While no formal study has been undertaken, a quantitative survey recently done over a 90 day period reveals that the neighbors living at the bottom of the Sand Dune are at no disadvantage when compared to other neighborhoods in Manhattan Beach – especially when you factor in their garages and alley ways located behind their house.

This was actually the first issue City Council addressed and sent to PPIC commission to study.  Unfortunately, neither side nor Council agreed to any of PPIC’s findings

City or County Park?

As a result of receiving funding from Los Angeles county, Sand Dune Park is required to adhere to the couny’s non-discrimination clause that stipulates, all residents from LA County will have equal access to Sand Dune Park.